Shopify vs. Shopify Plus: What’s Right For Your Ecommerce Business?

Shopify vs. Shopify Plus: What’s Right For Your Ecommerce Business?

Understand the differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus, and second, how to select the right version for your ecommerce business.

Written by VL OMNI

8 min read

Shopify is one of the fastest growing ecommerce platforms today. With the well-known reputation Shopify has, we at VL OMNI have noticed there’s some confusion between Shopify, focused on small and growing ecommerce businesses, and Shopify Plus, an enterprise-level version of the core platform.

In this article, we compare Shopify vs. Shopify Plus with the intent of helping you first understand the differences between the two versions of the platform, and second, how to select the right version for your ecommerce business. Whether you’re a Merchant just starting out in ecommerce or using ecommerce as a channel to augment your reach and bottom line, Shopify and Shopify Plus are ultimately built to grow as your business grows.

Table of Contents

  • What is Shopify?
  • Introducing Shopify Plus
  • Is it time to make the jump from Shopify to Shopify Plus?
  • Shopify Plus Benefits: The answer to Merchants' ecommerce problems
  • Final Thoughts

1. What is Shopify?

Shopify, by itself, is an ecommerce platform with various ecommerce and point of sale features a business needs to start, run, and grow their online store. With Shopify, small and medium businesses can build 3 things: their brand, store, and online presence, bringing their ecommerce idea to life.

The ecommerce platform comes with fundamental tools and services to make your business look professional online. You can put your brand into action with Shopify and personalise your website as needed while amplifying your reach through various channels, including social media, marketplaces, and so on. Additionally, merchants on Shopify have access to courses, guides, and resources to learn along the way while growing their online store.

2. Beyond Shopify: Introducing Shopify Plus

While the core Shopify service is geared towards individuals and small to medium-sized businesses looking to sell online, Shopify Plus makes a great option for high volume stores. If you are a growing company doing multiple millions in sales, you might want a platform and service built for high volume and complexity. That’s where Shopify Plus comes in.

As Shopify merchants grow, their needs become more complex, and they require a powerful platform to run their operations effectively – one with more functionality and customisation capabilities. Shopify Plus offers the same core dashboard and features as Shopify, but with access to new features, ability to do more with integrations, dedicated support options, and more tools geared around providing augmented value and services to growing businesses.

Additionally, Shopify Plus connects merchants with an ecosystem of solutions and Partners network for every need you can think of. In this context is where we at VL OMNI can help. Merchants who are mostly on Shopify Plus, come to us to integrate their complex systems in a seamless manner. Our agile integrations can handle systems that require a high level of customisation and automation while also allowing merchants to apply discrete business rules to their data workflows and meet strategic goals.

To put it simply – rapidly growing businesses such as Kylie Cosmetics, Fashion Nova, and Hasbro, just to name a few, prefer Shopify Plus as their enterprise ecommerce solution because of all the great, extra features.

3. Is it time to make the jump from Shopify to Shopify Plus?

As a growing ecommerce business, you will know it’s time to upgrade when your online store experiences rapid growth that requires having a more efficient (enterprise) infrastructure to meet customers’ demands. In other words, high-growth Merchants need a customisable solution that is agile to change, and takes care of the technical side of running a large online store without them having trouble in their back-end operations, integrations, and overall business processes. Enter Shopify Plus.

While Shopify offers the fundamental tools a Merchant needs to start and grow in ecommerce, Shopify Plus is the solution for those merchants currently serving exponentially more customers than expected and looking to scale without the need for large investments of time, money, or resources.

4. Shopify Plus Benefits

Over the few short years that the platform has been around, Shopify Plus has comfortably settled in as the top platform for complex multichannel merchants in the ecommerce space. But just like any good old-fashioned competition, when you’re on top, competitors will try to keep up with you. The fact of the matter is that Shopify Plus is on top for several good reasons, and they’ve rightfully earned their position as a top ecommerce platform.

We at VL OMNI have been exposed to global markets thanks to our partnership with Shopify Plus, which started in early 2017, and the broader Plus Partner Network. We have grown our market internationally to the UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia and there’s no sign of slowing down. But beyond the brand recognition, we know it’s the features Shopify Plus offers that merchants value. Here are five key tech features (perks) included with Shopify Plus that do not exist at the core level:

a) Unlimited Bandwidth

Shopify Plus can handle massive spikes in traffic and transactions from online stores. Some of the most well-known brand names like Kylie Cosmetics and Pink Boutique have chosen Shopify Plus and Plus Partners to power their ecommerce experiences. And the reason for this choice is clear: Back in August 2016, Kylie Cosmetics handled over 200K visitors who flooded the online store all at once during one of the biggest product launches in ecommerce history.

The results speak for themselves - Shopify Plus is built to be resilient. Its ecommerce platform powers over 600,000 merchants at 80,000 requests per second at its peak – and all in the cloud. That’s a lot of orders from a lot of Merchants!

Sometimes there’s an assumption that Shopify Plus can't handle brands that have high volumes of products and complex variants. Although Shopify Plus has a 100 variant limit, it is just specific to a single product. So if you’re a merchant with 100 products that each have 100 variants, you don’t have to worry. But if your business needs above and beyond this, there’s a Plus Partner who can help you extend the platform to meet your exact needs.

b) Save time

Shopify Plus guarantees merchants 99.99% uptime. This means an online store will almost always be online. And in a world where time is a valuable resource, receiving traffic and generating sales without your site being down is imperative.

With Shopify Plus and the ongoing support and guidance from their ecommerce experts, Merchants can be confident their online store can handle a surge in orders, visitors and traffic. This way merchants can spend more time focusing on other parts of their business (product development, marketing, strategy, and more) and resources to scale their business. Likewise, VL OMNI is in the cloud with similar uptime and reliability to help your systems operate seamlessly and at scale.

c) A Fully Hosted and Secure Platform

Shopify Plus is a hosted ecommerce SaaS platform. What SaaS in this application means is that Merchants can run their online store with the software Shopify provides. In fact, Shopify Plus stores and all data are hosted on Shopify Plus dedicated Level 1 PCI DSS compliant servers. PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is essential to give your online store credibility. This compliance allows merchants to store data legally, and guarantees protection for customers purchasing products with their credit and debit cards on an online store.

d) Shopify Plus Customisation

The Shopify Plus platform is structured so that Merchants can have beautiful ecommerce websites centered on customer experience and cutting-edge design. The front-end development of an online store can be quick and cost-effective to create with the help of an expert agency. Our friends at Eastside Co are a Shopify Plus agency specialising in web design and development of sites that fully utilise the capabilities of having Shopify Plus as an enterprise-level solution.

Based in the UK, with offices in New York, London and Dubai, Eastside Co can work with you from ideation and Shopify web design, through development and final sign-off. Their team of in-house experts helps Merchants bring their vision to life by creating online experiences that captivate customers from the moment they enter the ecommerce store, to when they make a purchase, making their store truly unique.

e) Rich Technology Means Better Scalability

Having the right technology stack can allow you to scale your online store effectively. In combination with web development, merchants should consider reinvesting their budget in powerful back-end technology, strategic integration, and achieving complex objectives. In fact, Shopify Plus offers fantastic scope to customise an online store with real-time integration thanks to its higher API limit. VL OMNI uses those high API limits to our advantage to create omnichannel integrations that help merchants achieve their automation goals, provide a great customer experience at all touch points, and scale their business.

Shopify Plus APIs

API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it is a set of features and functions that allow you to automate aspects of a website and build in greater functionality without needing to code. They are the portal for moving data into and out of applications: no API, no data movement! Shopify Plus has robust APIs and webhooks, making it extremely flexible to integrate to key business tools and systems including:

(Source: Is Shopify Plus a Scalable Ecommerce Platform for Enterprises?, Shopify Plus)

In general, Third Party Logistics (3PL) helps merchants manage the relationship with their distributor while Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) joins up all your different operations in harmony, including manufacturing processes, distribution, finance and email systems.

By giving you full front-end control, Shopify Plus empowers Merchants to build their store in their own way. Your expert team handling the online store can work with multiple apps without breaking the API limit or connect directly with major third-party platforms for a better scope to make any desired changes.

Apps & Data Integration

The Shopify Plus App Store offers plugins to grow your business and improve operations and processes. But when your needs go beyond the app store has to offer, you can choose from a variety of data integration approaches to achieve automation and consistent data workflows. If you need some guidance or are ready to automate your business, you can always reach out to VL OMNI.

As experts in data integration, we have a consultative approach that focuses on meeting your automation needs, timeline and goals to create seamless integrations. Our integration Connectors are 80% of the way prebuilt with the remaining 20% dedicated only for configuration. Merchants looking for that next level of integration can integrate Shopify Plus to more applications with our fully scalable and agile Shopify Plus Connector.

By gearing up with the right technology and partners, you can rest assured your behind-the-scenes operations will be strong, resulting in better accuracy and productivity for your online store as it grows and scales.

5. Final Thoughts

Shopify is unquestionably the ecommerce platform with the greatest traction in North America and rapidly gaining steam internationally. In general, merchants who are just starting in ecommerce or don’t require complexity on their systems opt for Shopify core as their ecommerce platform. However, high-growth Merchants looking to scale prefer Shopify Plus for various reasons. While Plus has some of the biggest, well-known brands already on the platform, it also provides support, resources, and maintains solid partnerships with their Plus Partners (agencies and technology platforms), bringing together the best of the best for merchants.

As a data integrator, we at VL OMNI value Shopify Plus for its webhooks and APIs which allow for real-time data movement. These technical mechanisms are responsive to how we help merchants integrate and automate their different systems together. In the end, Shopify Plus as an ecommerce platform, and partners like VL OMNI as an iPaaS platform, go hand in hand to help growing businesses scale with the right technology and capabilities.

Considering Shopify Plus? Start exploring the platform today!

Additional Resources:

A Complete Business Guide to Shopify Plus. This ebook includes insightful and informative Shopify Plus content for Merchants interested or already using the platform.

Here are 10 things to do the moment you upgrade to Shopify Plus.

Who we are

We are one of the world’s most trusted and experienced Shopify Plus Partners. A full-service, fully in-house digital agency of over 50 talented people, we’ve helped hundreds of ambitious brands exceed their goals.

About Eastside Co

What we do

Eastside Co leads the way in UX-focused Shopify web design, results-driven marketing strategies, and best-in-class Shopify applications and software. We help online businesses escape the ordinary and achieve ecommerce success.

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